A place to escape, a place to return to…
On certain nights, on certain roads, I like to shut my headlights off and let the moon guide me home, a shimmering beacon among the spattered stars. It’s easy to forget what night looks like — dark, brooding, for-real night — when your eyes have become accustomed to the forever-yellow haze of a city after dark. The constant buzz of streetlights complimenting car horns and distant trains and dogs barking, a reminder that CIVILIZATION IS HERE and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. But so far, civilization and its chaos has not yet discovered this place. This place of no cell phone service, no pavement, no internet. No connectivity except the kind you find with what’s outside your door.
The familiar dirt track that leads to the old New England Cape-style house shimmers before me, tall pines on either side lean in to examine the darkened car that creeps up their road. Like skeptical relatives bending to ask “so what is it you do?” They loom above, though in a much more amiable manner than an inquisitive aunt. I click the lights on at the last minute, before creeping the last 1/4 mile toward home, where my mother and her dogs sleep, so as not to startle the dogs and moreso, my sleeping mother.
Driving these roads, they’re the same as they’ve always been. Frost heaves where expected, the same swamp where I can’t help myself and look for moose every time I pass — despite never once passing at an hour when moose might be present. Spots where my car has slipped off the road, an inevitable circumstance of any Maine winter, like landmarks guiding me to my destination. Home used to be a place to escape from. A place I only wished to see in my rear-view mirror as I departed towards the buzz and din of city life and career and more. Leaving behind family and the friends who stayed (who never fail to ask now “so, when are you moving back?” like it’s as inevitable as the sun rising).
There was a time when returning felt foreign, when the house I grew up in felt impossibly small and stifling. But as I’ve drifted farther afield the space has only expanded. Growing in possibility and warmth, a welcoming light at the end of a dark road.